This is a very well made suji kabuto comprised of 62 individual iron plates that have been riveted together. This helmet is an authentic Samurai helmet from the late 1500’s that was used when the country of Japan was in a state of constant civil warfare so it has definitely seen use on the battlefield.
The iron bowl has a brownish tinge from age and the bowl is in excellent condition. The teihen kanamono is comprised of six layers of brass done in a scalloped pattern with the bottom layer delicately carved in a floral pattern. Attached by three large brass rivets to the front of the bowl is a mabisashi that has been covered with doe skin and rimmed with a narrow silver band that has been delicately carved. The bowl has a four lame shikoro that has been laced with doe skin and finished with a brown ito. The top lame turns back into large fukigaeshi that have also been partially covered with doe skin to match the mabisashi. The shikoro looks to be from the middle Edo era and it has held up wonderfully well because the lacing is doe skin instead of ito. The helmet also has an interesting Edo period maedate of what looks to be paper scrolls with a horse hair decoration It is made of wood and lacquered.
The mei looks to be that of the first generation Saotome Iyehisa (早乙女家久) who worked around 1570-1591 in the Tensho (天正) era. He is rated as a Jo Jo saku (top quality) maker who was thought to be the son of Saotome Iyenari (早乙女家成), the third master of the Saotome line. The records also indicate that he worked in both Sagami and Kai. Since the surviving works of Saotome Iyehisa (早乙女家久) are signed simply Saotome Iyehisa (早乙女家久), there is no way to confirm the area of his residency.